Making a cross-country move can be incredibly stressful. From moving your furniture to uprooting to a new community, traveling long distances in your car while moving can be difficult. It can be even more difficult if you have a pet you’re taking with you. Fortunately, there are many tips for traveling with pets in a car that can make your move (and your life) easier! When traveling with pets, it’s important to remember they are living creatures, so you have to plan for them just like you’d like to take a small human with you (because our pets are small family members too)!
Below are our favorite tips for traveling with pets in a car that you can use to help you move, take a cross-country vacation, or simply take a long drive with your pet from time to time!
1. Plan for Pit Stops
Before you begin your traveling journey, you should first plan for pit stops between your starting and final destination. These pit stops can include local hiking trails, camping areas, and doggy parks that allow both you and your pup to get out and stretch your legs during the ride. You can even consider planning camping trips during your travel time. A custom car shop can help you install custom features into your car that can help you camp, such as a custom camper.
2. Clean out your Car
Before you load your pet into your car, make sure to get it detailed and cleaned out. This will prevent your pet from swallowing any harmful items that can be a choking hazard. You’ll want to prevent this when out on the road, or deal with your dog having an emergency while traveling. For the best tips for traveling with pets in a car, clean out your car beforehand. You can also visit a car dealership for detailing services.
3. Make Space for a Kennel
If you have a larger dog or your dog prefers a kennel, you’ll want to make space for one in the trunk of your vehicle. The trunk is a sturdy area that is still big enough to house a kennel. You can also strap down your kennel to keep your pet safe. Make sure your kennel is large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in. Investing in a kennel can also help you to easily transport your dog into a hotel or motel for the night. Some hotels and motels might require a kennel.
4. Take Lots of Water
During a long trip, you might have to drive through incredibly hot areas such as deserts. One of the best tips for traveling with pets in a car and traveling, in general, is to take lots of water with you. For your dog, it’s not enough to simply rely on local public water sources. Take water bottles, water gallons, and a drinking bowl with you to help keep your dog (or cat) hydrated. It’s also a good idea to take extra water to put into your car’s fluid system. If your car overheats or is damaged on the road, have a car towing service on standby to help transfer you and your pet.
5. Take Lots of Toys
Invest in some high-quality toys before taking your trip cross-country. Toys can help entertain your pet during pit stops and also while they’re on the road with you! Make sure your toys can stand up to hours of play, as your pet might be keener on playing with them during these long drives. Toys can also help persuade your dog or cat to travel with you if they’re hesitant at first to join you.
6. Consider Medication
In addition to toys, one of the best tips for traveling with pets in a car is to consider medication for their anxiety. This is crucial if you feel the long drive will add stress to your cat or dog. Some pets already suffer from separation and other anxiety, which can worsen during long car rides. Talk to your veterinarian about possible medications you can give your pet before and during your car ride. This includes prescriptions such as Gabapentin and other anti-anxiety medications. Always follow the veterinarian’s guidelines when administering this medicine.
7. Pack Extra Blankets
Blankets and old clothes with your scent on them can not only keep your pet warm but help comfort them during the long car ride. Bring extra blankets to act as a cover for your kennel, and bring extra clothes that can help ease your pet. Cats, in particular, enjoy clothes with your scent, and they can also be fussy during long car rides!
8. Bring Extra Wipes
While out on the road, you might not be able to have access to a full shower or bathtub to keep your pet clean. Your pet will need to be kept clean during your trip. Flushable pet wipes can help avoid skin conditions and also make sure your vehicle stays clean if your pet is dirty. In addition to extra wipes, you should also bring with you any medications and skin ointments that belong to your pet.
9. Fix your Sound System
During the long drive, it might be helpful to play relaxing music to calm your pet. Visit a car audio shop to help put your pet at ease. Playing relaxing music is one of the best tips for traveling with pets in a car, as it helps put them to sleep, relax, and also helps you pass the time during your long commute. If you already have a working sound system, remember to not play loud music as this can startle your pet and possibly damage their eardrums.
10. Fix your Windshield
A car body repair shop can help you replace any cracked or broken windshields that can have a negative impact on your drive. Cracked windshields can worsen with added pressure, especially on longer cross-country drives. You don’t want to get into an accident with your pet due to a broken windshield. For one of the best tips for traveling with pets in a car, fix your windshield beforehand.
11. Get Pet and Car Insurance
Pet insurance can allow you to provide medical care to your pet in case of an emergency while out on the road. Not only is it important to have pet insurance, but also car insurance in case of an emergency during your commute. Car insurance can help you in case you are the victim or even at fault for an accident. Both car and pet insurance are essential while driving, and getting both is one of the best tips for traveling with pets in a car.
11. Protect your Pet and Valuables
If you plan on sleeping in your car during your trip, you’ll want to contact a car locksmith to protect you, your pet, and your valuables. A car locksmith can help repair automatic locks and manual locks in order to prevent break-ins. This is also important if you leave your car parked in a motel or hotel parking lot. Fix your locks before planning your trip.
12. Fix your Brakes
Nothing is worse than driving and having to suddenly brake constantly. Squeak brakes can be loud and make driving an uncomfortable experience for you and your pet. For one of the best tips for traveling with pets in a car, get the help of a brake repair service to avoid accidents and make your drive as smooth as possible.
13. Pack Extra Snacks
For both you and your pet, one of the best tips for traveling with pets in a car is to pack extra snacks and treats for the road! Treats can help provide positive reinforcement for your pet, help persuade them to get in and out of the car, and also help calm them down during stressful situations. Extra snacks can also help keep them full in-between pit stops and meals.
14. Buy a Mesh Screen
A mesh screen can provide a safe, breathable barrier between you and your pet. If your pet is constantly trying to interrupt your driving but doesn’t feel comfortable in a kennel, having a mesh screen is a safe option. This can help prevent accidents, while also allowing your pet to still see you and help keep them calm. In some states, driving with your pet unrestrained or in the front seat of the vehicle is prohibited. Even if you trust your pet, if they have been prone to unpredictable behavior while you’re driving, a mesh screen can also be helpful.
15. Pack Disposable Bags
While out on pit stops, you’ll still have to clean up after your dog and their bathroom breaks! Pack lots of disposable doggy bags to clean up after your pet while out in parks. Not only is this for good courtesy, but it’s also hygienic. Disposable bags can also help you carry treats with you, keep toys clean for your pet, and also act as lunch bags for you as well.
16. Bring Vaccine and other Documents
When you’re traveling with your pet, you will have to bring with you all relevant documents such as their vaccination record. It’s always good to have this and other documents on hand in case you need them to gain access to a certain area. In addition, bring copies of your auto insurance, vehicle registration, and your driver’s license. These will help you in case of an emergency, and even if you get pulled over during a traffic stop. Traveling is not an excuse to not have these documents on you, and you can possibly face a fine for not presenting these on time.
17. Get your Pet Microchipped
Unfortunately, your pet might also get lost during your trip. Whether you leave the window down, end up letting them out of your sight for just a second, or they run away, your pet can get lost at any point in your trip. One of the best tips for traveling with pets in a car and keeping your pet safe is to keep them microchipped. If found, you can locate your dog at a local shelter by looking up information in a microchip registry. Microchipping your pet can save you heartache and stress during your trip!
18. Call Hotels Ahead of Time
If you plan on staying at a hotel instead of camping, call hotels ahead of time to ask about their pet policies. Some pets might outright refuse to allow pets, while others might only allow service dogs or emotional support animals. If your dog is a service dog, remember that all hotels and public places must follow ADA rules, which state that they cannot ask you questions about your pet or request paperwork. They can, however, ask if your pet is a service animal and if it is trained for a specific test. It’s best to be truthful and opt to stay in hotels that allow pets if your cat or dog is not a service animal.
19. Update your Doggy Tags
Aside from microchipping, one of the best ways to ensure your pet is located if lost is to update their doggy tags. On your pet’s collar, make sure your phone number and name are present, along with your pet’s name and other relevant information. Having an outdated number or old information can prevent your pet from being turned in, and can prevent you from being reunited.
Take The Necessary Steps for a Successful Trip
These tips for traveling with pets in a car are relatively easy to implement and can help you and your pet stay safe during a long car ride. Whether you visit an auto repair shop before traveling, update your pet’s microchip, or prepare with extra snacks and water, there are a variety of tips you can use to make your trip a success.